Current weather

San Diego, CA
Few clouds
57.2 °F

Festival Activities


Thanks to all who made 2016 Balboa Park December Nights so memorable!

 The City of San Diego and the Balboa Park Conservancy, co-producers of this classic San Diego celebration, would like to thank our generous sponsors. We could not have welcomed 360,000 visitors to the Park over the two-day event without the support of these wonderful organizations.

We would also like to thank the entertainment groups, the Park museums and cultural organizations and the many Balboa Park and community volunteers who made this festival so special.

We’re hoping to spend the first Friday and Saturday of December (December 1 and 2, 2017) with you next year to celebrate the 40th anniversary of San Diego’s premiere holiday event.


Take a look at some of the highlights from Balboa Park December Nights 2016!



Balboa Park December Nights, San Diego’s favorite kick-off to the holiday season, will celebrate 39 years of bringing friends, families and the community together on Friday, December 2, from 3-11 p.m. and Saturday, December 3, Noon-11 p.m.
Museum are open FREE both nights from 5-9pm

See what is going on inside your favorite museums, and around the Park. 

  • The Miniature Train will be running during Balboa Park December Nights. 
    Friday 3-9pm
    Sat. 11am-9pm
    Sun - normal hours - 11am-4:30pm

  • Get information about food, music, and more December Nights from our friendly volunteers.

    As assortment of light-up accessories and holiday gifts are available in the Visitor's Center gift shop, along with Balboa Park-themed gifts, sundry items, snacks and drinks. 

  • Christmas carols on El Prado.
    Also selling Santa and Mrs. Claus beaded light up figures and knitted caps.

  • Hosted by Gator by the Bay and San Diego Bon Temps Social Club of San Diego featuring Cajun, Zydeco and Blues music and dance in Balboa Park. 

  • Gorgeous annual display of Poinsettias fill the Botanical Building.
    The Botanical Building will be open during daytime hours of Balboa Park December Nights, but will not be open during the evening. 

  • SWEA San Diego brings Swedish culture and traditions to December Nights. Come and see the Santa Lucia procession (6 & 8pm) , shop some traditionally Swedish baked goods and crafts, get some Meatballs, and finally enjoy a cup of warm Glogg (Spiced wine) Welcome!
    Also, Friday, 6:30pm, Swedish singer Ylva Elias singing traditional English and Swedish Christmas song
    Saturday, 6:30pm, parade of traditional Swedish costumes

  • TBA

  • Continuing a December Nights tradition, the San Diego Civic Dance Company will perform the classic "We Need A Little Christmas" Rockette-style number along with other favorites in the patio of the Casa del Prado Building.  As in years past, the patio will be transformed into a holiday wonderland--coming alive with cookie decorating, photos with Santa and his elves and the aroma of our tomato basil pasta.
    Performing hourly both evenings in the interior patio of the Casa del Prado from 5:15 - 9:15pm, while a host of other dancers representing the SD City Parks & Rec Dance Arts Program will be performing on Saturday at Noon, 2:00pm and 3:30pm.
  • A non-profit organization that supports the upkeep and display of the Nativity scenes in the Organ Pavilion, and Santa and the reindeer. 

    Details TBA

  • TBA

  • Celebrate December Nights at The Fleet Science Center with over 100 hands on exhibits, live science demonstrations, and your favorite science characters. Have your picture taken with Einstein or for just $5, make your own unique snowflake. For an additional fee, watch a film in the world’s first IMAX dome theater or visit The Art of the Brick, named one of CNN's Top Ten "Global Must-See Exhibitions." 

  • Entertainment and food from around the world. 

  • The Japanese Friendship Garden will be serving delicious chicken teriyaki bowls, yaki soba, and miso soup. 

    Free admission on Saturday from noon-4pm. The Garden will be closed on Friday.

  • The beloved holiday story, "A Christmas Carol", is told with animal puppets.  Humor and a variety of puppets, this is a holiday tradition for the whole family.
    Full stage production created and performed by Balboa Park Puppet Guild Players 
  • At Mingei International Museum, surrounded by Art of the World, Art of the People,  you’ll feast your eyes on magnificent gingerbread structures, relish eccentric furnishings and domestic art in THE ERIK GRONBORG EXPERIENCE and find new beauty in TOOLS AND UTENSILS – The Beauty of Objects from the World’s Kitchens and Workshops. While you’re in the Museum, visit The Collectors’ Gallery to find unique gifts for the special people on your list.  On your way out, be sure to stop at Café Mingei for a warm cup of holiday cheer.

  • Enjoy four exhibitions currently on display at the Museum of Photographic Arts while listening to classic holiday music.  After exploring the galleries, take a moment to create your own frame-worthy shot with MOPA's photo booth, well-stocked with holiday props.  Complete your tour at MOPA’s shop to find unique gifts for the shutterbug on your list.
    • Boundless: A California Invitational
    • Animals Among Us: 11th Annual Youth Exhibition
    • Seeing is Believing?
    • America’s Cathedrals: Photography and the National Parks Micro Exhibition
    Closed during the day. Open from 5-9 both evenings
  •  Brunch, lunch, and dinner offered, plus a full bar with over 18 local taps of craft beer. 

  • Join the San Diego Air & Space Museum to kick off your holiday season while enjoying our Beverage Garden & live performance by the singing sensations “Rockin Cranberries”. You can have your family photo taken with at our photo booth with fun Holiday props, sip on hot coco while strolling through our museum galleries.

    Stay warm & dine on yummy eats provided by the Flight Path Grill in our heated Pavilion of Flight! Explore all of our innovative motion simulators and 4D theater. Special Holiday gift buys at the museum gift shop. Free arts and crafts for the kids & endless fun to be had at the San Diego Air & Space Museum!

    Open free from 3:30-10:30 both days

  • SDAI will feature arts, crafts, and jewelry vendors from San Diego. Enjoy the annual roasted chestnuts - a San Diego tradition!

  • San Diego Harmonys Ringers (Friday only 5:00, 6:15, 7:15).
    Photos with Santa in a classic car!
    The "Wagons" exhibition will be partially closed

  • San Diego Chorus of Sweet Adelines International, is an a cappella chorus of women singing 4-part harmony, barbershop style, an original American Art Form.  Under the direction of Master Director Kathleen Hansen, SDSA is soaring into its 65th year to share its authentic, passionate and fun performances with the world. 

  • San Diego Civic Youth Ballet proudly presents excerpts of The Nutcracker.
    Take an extraordinary journey to the magical Land of Sweets with Clara and her Nutcracker Prince. Witness the epic battle between toy soldiers and mice before being whisked away to an enchanted land of falling snow, waltzing flowers, and the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Set to the timeless music of Tchaikovsky, this annual holiday production will become a cherished family tradition. 
    Casa del Prado Theater – Dec. 2nd & 3rd, 6:00pm, 7:00pm, & 8:00pm
  • 30 decorated Christmas trees fill Room 101 in Casa del Prado.

    This year's theme is  "Talk to the Animals: Celebrating 100 Years of the San Diego Zoo."  

    Tree decorations will be inspired by an animal or bird found in our zoo.  

  • The Hall will be closed during the day both Friday and Saturday, and will reopen from 5-9pm both nights.

    The Hall will be wrapped in festive holiday decorations! Enjoy the exhibits honoring the best of San Diego sports


  • Discover San Diego’s rich history through family-friendly interactive displays at the San Diego History Center! Current exhibitions include Lore Behind the Roar! 100 Years of the San Diego Zoo, Irving J. Gill: New Architecture for a Great Country, Animal Aesthetics: Decades of Design at the San Diego Zoo, The Border: A Line That Divides, and Place of Promise: The Story of San Diego.

    Find a selection of vintage, exhibition-themed, and locally-sourced gifts in the History Store.  

  • Ring in the holidays with carols from Junior Theatre's own JT On Tour. Holiday songs from 6-10pm both nights (every 15 minutes).

    Enjoy chili, nachos, and hot and cold drinks.

  • Nothing says Happy Holidays like a model train around the tree! Come see the San Diego Model Railroad Museum all decked out for the holidays with our Winter Wonderland model railroad display and 12 foot train themed Christmas tree!  Also a visit from Santa and a Holiday Train Station.

    Closed during the day on Friday. Open free both evenings from 5-9pm

  • Visit the galleries of the Museum of Man and encounter objects, artifacts, and art installations that represent the cultural traditions of people from all over the world and across time. Enjoy performances on Saturday of Kumeyaay Birdsongs, the creation of a collaborative art sculpture, and other special activities underneath the museum’s grand dome. 

    The California Tower Tours and our Special Exhibition, Cannibals, will NOT be open during December Nights Free Admission 5-9pm.  Tower Tours and Cannibals will be open during our normal operations 10am-4:00pm both days.

  • Skyfari will be open each night from 5:30-10:00pm ($5 per rider, round trip) 
    The Zoo will not be open.

  • A unique cloister of over two hundred and fifthy local and talented artists diyplaying a variety of original artwork and fine craft, gathered in a historical site.
    Live music and  variety of food.
  • The Old Globe Theatre will be open for tours including a display of Costumes from the Globe's collection; A peek at the Whoville Town Square from "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!"; The Globe Guilders will be selling Hot Popcorn and Photos with The Grinch.  Lady Carolyn's Pub and The Helen Edison Gift Shop will be open throughout the event

  • The Prado Restaurant and Lounge will be open for no-reservation dining during normal business hours. The Courtyard will have a cash bar and live music

    Prado Pub in the Plaza de Panama: Cocktail area in the Plaza serves burgers, fries, fish and chips, hot chocolate, and offers an over-21 cocktail and beer garden. 

  • Join us for a long-running tradition of concerts in our galleries as we celebrate December Nights in Balboa Park. Performances will range from Renaissance and early music accompanied by traditional costumes and instruments to vocal jazz and pop featuring seasonal favorites.

    Closed during the day. Open 5-9pm each evening. 

  • Current exhibits include “The History of the Military in Balboa Park”, the Korean War “Battle for Outpost Harry”, the “Women’s Military History Gallery, the “Vietnam Retrospective Gallery, the Photos of Gordon Parks, and our main exhibit hall.

    Located in the historic chapel of the old Balboa Naval Hospital at Inspiration Point

  • The San Diego Natural History Museum (theNAT) offers four floors of exhibition space for the public to enjoy during December Nights. Permanent exhibitions include: Extraordinary Ideas from Ordinary People: A History of Citizen Science (NEW), Coast to Cactus in Southern California, Fossil Mysteries, Skulls and Water: A California Story.  Special exhibition, Animals: Machines in Motion will be open with a $9 admission.
    Visitors can also see The Last Hurrah: The Photography of Abe Ordover, a photography exhibition, and two exciting 3D films* in the giant screen theater. Indulge in some hot chocolate from the Dino Cafe while listening to live holiday music performed by the Pomerado Brass Quintet from 5 to 6:30 PM and the TubaFours from 6:45 to 8:45 PM. Pick  up some authentic, locally-sourced mistletoe, sold by the Museum Canyoneers.
    *3D films are not included with free admission during December Nights. Each 3D film is $5 per person.
    **Open free 3-9pm. Closed prior to 3pm. 
  • The Timken Museum of Art will display the annual holiday tree featuring the exquisite handcrafted collection of ornaments by local artists Florence and Elizabeth Schlappi. Compared to Fabrege eggs, the intricate ornaments are composed of elaborate designs of delicate beads, cloth, and filigree. 

    Visitors can also enjoy a bespoke art installation created by San Diego State University School of Theater, Television, and Film, highlighting the detailed design of holiday treasures.

    The Timken is open from 10am-9pm both days. 

  • "Shop the World" at the U.N. International Gift Shop! A great place for all of your holiday gift buying needs.